As I eat my way through the delicious high in fat, high in sugar Dutch snacks, I often wonder why I don’t see more obese people in the Netherlands – then I almost get run over by a bike and realise that they have institutionalised exercise and can probably afford to down some fries as if it’s a piece of fruit.
Just a light snack, no biggy. And yes I would love my double fried potato covered in mayonnaise. So if you have adopted the Dutch way of life and are biking here, there and everywhere – why not indulge every now and again? Here are some of my favourite snacks and spots in Haarlem that I have discovered so far:
Two thin crispy waffles joint together with a sticky caramel sauce – is your mouth watering yet? The texture is the perfect combination of crunchy, soft and gooey that makes the Dutch waffle much better than the Belgium waffle in my humble opinion. You can buy these at the supermarket but they are much better fresh off the grill.
Favourite spot: The Grote Markt on the Saturday market day – also good because it limits this indulgent treat to a maximum consumption of once a week.
Small puffy pancake balls covered in icing sugar and butter – it’s like eating a cloud (if clouds were covered in diabetes). They are so good fresh and hot but some places serve them pre-made. Don’t do yourself the disservice and buy the ones that have been sitting around for awhile – they stick to the cardboard and the cold icing sugar and butter is a coagulated mess.
Favourite spot: There is a Poffetjes stand that pops up every now and again near the Grote Markt on Grote Houtstraat. It’s painted amazing colours and the older couple makes ‘em fresh and tries their best to help with pronunciation (Po-fet-yes??).
Yes, we have deep fried potatoes in New Zealand too. And when I first arrived in the Netherlands, I didn’t know what all the fuss was about. However, the hole in the wall places specialising in hot chips make it so accessible that I have been craving the frites a whole lot more over here. Also, how bout them sauces – sambal mayo – delish. But my favourite so far is truffle mayonnaise.
Favourite spot: De Vlaamsche Reus, Nieuwstraat 6, 2011 GH Haarlem
What exactly is inside these deep fried balls of mystery? We have asked some Dutch friends, and they don’t know either. It seems to be some type of goop, with potato, and some chunks of meat (you can usually also get a vegetarian option). They are served piping hot with mustard on the side, and if dipped in any other sauce, it will provoke the side-eye from the Dutch. I believe the mustard provides the bitter to the ballen, and if eaten with other sauce then it is just mystery goop balls. To avoid a burnt mouth, break them open first and let them cool down, however, I don’t think this is how the Dutch do it, and perhaps the third-degree burns are part of the fun.
Favourite spot: Jopenkerk, Gedempte Voldersgracht 2, 2011 WB Haarlem
Oh, my god – it’s so gouda! (This is probably my worst pun to date.) I love all the free samples you can try in cheese shops and at markets. My favourite Dutch variety that I have tried so far is blauwe kaas – their take on blue cheese which is a lot harder in texture than the French blue cheeses. I love coming home from the market, armed with a new cheese variety and delicious bread.
Favourite spot: The Grote Markt on market day.
What’s your favourite Dutch snack? Have you been able to find any healthy snacks that are typical to the Netherlands? If you have, I would love to know to curb my stroopwaffle obsession!